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Teaching Metacognition in the Prekindergarten Classroom

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Preschoolers are in the initial stages of developing general cognitive abilities. According to Robert Fisher, ¨the years from 4 to 9 see significant developments in children in their growing awareness if themselves as thinkers and learners.¨ At 4 (the age of most PreK boys), there is some awareness of themselves as thinkers and learners. And of course, metacognitive development in individual children varies widely, including ¨poor learners¨ well as those who are gifted. Metacognition varies greatly in terms of the level of knowledge and skills the boys already have, particularly in the area of second/foreign language acquisition. A few boys in my current classes have an almost amazing knowledge of basic English vocabulary and are able to identify pictures using the correct key vocabulary. At this age, they do not read or write as part of the English curriculum; therefore, the emphasis is placed on involving each boy's whole self - intellect, emotion and body in the learning process.

The activity that I utilized in the first semester to work on metacognition was connected to our study of the story, ¨The Ugly Duckling.¨ The story was read out loud many times with the emphasis being to think about the differences between the Baby Swan and Baby Duck as well as the adult swan and adult duck. We talked about size and color differences and compared the pictures we looked at. The concept of ¨being different¨ was difficult for the boys to grasp, particularly when not presented in their native language. The boys were shown four different pictures and asked to match the babies with the mothers. Some boys were successful the first time. We then re-read the story and talked about the colors, brown, yellow and white. The boys' next task was to draw the 4 birds; they were told specifically to use only the colors brown, yellow and white. A few of the boys correctly completed this task, while others used random colors such as pink. We held up examples of several drawings while I asked questions, including: ¨is this the baby swan/duck?¨ ¨What color is the baby duck, etc.? By the end of the week, most of the boys were thinking about ¨differences¨ in color and size. I asked them, ¨are you different from ____? ¨ The majority of them could answer ¨yes.¨ When I asked ¨why?¨ only a few could tell me what the differences were. The final activity was to draw two different boys. The results included a few drawing a black boy and a white boy, a few drawing a tall boy and a short boy; many drawing boys with different hair colors and finally, a few drew pictures that had nothing to do with the assignment.

These activities worked very well generally. It takes a lot of repetition and reviewing to get most of them thinking and on the right track. Before I do this kind of activity again, I plan to model the



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